Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Beginning of Goodbye: The Way It Was, 19 May

1960---He may well have coined the term "rock and roll" and was often considered its father; his signature signoff was, "This is not goodbye, it's just good night." And innumerable commentators fretted about the music corrupting the day's youth---but now they must think they should have worried about it corrupting its promoters.

Payola---payments to guarantee certain records getting played--- isn't exactly an uncommon practise by the time Alan Freed and eight other disc jockeys are accused of accepting payola, after the U.S. House Oversight Committee has spent a year examining whether such payoffs (gifts, cash, both) really existed, the House committee reputedly having been prodded by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP).

. . . Though a number of deejays and program directors were caught in the scandal, the committee decide to focus on Freed. Freed's broadcasts alliances quickly deserted him. In 1959, WABC in New York asked him to sign a statement confirming that he had never accepted payola. Freed refused "on principle" to sign and was fired.

Freed was the only deejay subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee and refused to testify despite being given immunity. Trial began December, 1962 and ended with Freed pleading guilty to 29 counts of commercial bribery. Though he only received a $300 fine and 6 months suspended sentence his career would be over.

Forced to leave New York Freed worked briefly at KDAY (owned by the same company that owned WINS) in 1960, in Los Angeles, but when management refused to let him promote live rock & roll shows Freed left the station and returned to Manhattan to emcee a live twist revue. When the twist craze cooled he hooked on as a disc jockey at WQAM (Miami, FL). Realizing that his dream of returning to New York radio was just that, Freed's drinking increased. The Miami job lasted only two months.

By 1964, Freed will be indicted for income tax evasion, by which time he is hospitalised with uremia, the penalty for the heavy drinking into which he fell following his original troubles, and he will die penniless in January 1965.

His ethics would be questioned often enough. Like many in the day, he claimed songwriting credits as possible promotional payoffs; he was also accused of underpaying talent who appeared in his famous rock and roll spectacular shows and tours before the payola scandals. But no one could or would really question Alan Freed's rock and roll heart.


1929: SUSPECTING THE KINGFISH IS EMBEZZLING---Andy (Charles Correll) has precisely such a suspicion after he noticed how particularly well the Kingfish's wife has been dressing lately . . . and, after the Kingfish handed him a new---and possible illegally written---lodge bylaw, on tonight's edition of Amos 'n' Andy. (NBC.)

Amos: Freeman Gosden. Writers: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll.

1941: MODEL WIFE---Dick Powell and Joan Blondell---whose marriage in real life was in trouble when they made the sleeper film hit---reprise their roles as a couple whose marriage is kept secret from her boss, who frowns on working married women . . . and happens to have his own thing for her, provoking trouble enough between husband and wife, on tonight's edition of Lux Radio Theater. (CBS.)

Additional cast: Fred MacKaye. Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Leigh Jason.

1942: GOING TO BE RICH---While fuming as usual over the monthly stack of bills ("With all the restrictions on rubber, I don't dare write any more checks"), McGee (Jim Jordan) stumbles over a newspaper headline he thinks is going to make him rich, on tonight's edition of Fibber McGee & Molly. (NBC.)

Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. The Old-Timer/Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. LaTrivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King's Men. Writer: Don Quinn.

1942: THE EDWARDS AND EDWARDS PUBLISHING COMPANY---Surrendering ideas about becoming a famed writer, Lum (Chester Lauck) shifts his dream to publishing, "where the real money is," and hangs up a sign to lure aspiring writers to his imprint, on today's edition of Lum & Abner. (CBS.)

Abner: Norris Goff. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.


1870---Wright Kramer (actor: Showboat), Somerville, Massachussetts.


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